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Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher (1742-1819), Prussian Field Marshal

A titan of the Napoleonic era though not considered one of military history's more talented tactical or strategic minds, Marshal Blucher nonetheless had the one quality all great generals have had:  Tenacity. Adored by his troops, the old Prussian warhorse with the entirely fitting nickname of 'Alte Vorwaerts' (Old Forwards) would see battle well into his early seventies!

A natural instinct for war combined with an equally innate hatred of the French (his troops laid waste to the French countryside after the invasion of 1814 and Blucher ordered the destruction of Jena Bridge in Paris after Napoleonís defeat at Waterloo!) made Blucher one of Napoleon's chief headaches throughout the Wars of the Coalitions.

During the campaign against Revolutionary France in 1793, Blucher proved himself to be a fanatically brave and inspired leader of cavalry. Following the disastrous Prussian defeats by the French at Jena and Auerstadt in 1806, Blucher fought on with Rearguard units until he was forced to surrender at Ratkau. It was not until after Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign that Blucher again returned to active command.

In the 'War of German Liberation' of 1813, Blucher commanded the Army of Silesia which maintained intense pressure on Napoleon and pushed home the advantage at Leipzig. Blucher advanced into France in 1814, and after a series of battles against Napoleon, Blucher successfully led his army to the gates of Paris. Eager to avenge himself upon Napoleon, Blucher attempted to have the bridge celebrating Napoleon's victory at Jena, the Pont d'Iena, blown up, though Allied intervention saved the landmark.

During the Belgian Campaign of 1815, Blucher's force of 90,000 became separated from Wellington's Anglo-Dutch Army. Recognizing at once the tremendous opportunity presented to him by the Allies' imprudence, Napoleon quickly concentrated his forces, crossed into Belgium and split the Allies at Charleroi, advancing quickly to exploit the separation of of his enemies and knock them out in succession.

Fully capturing the ferocious disposition of 'Old Forwards'. Marshal Blucher is here seen with the like-minded Queen Louise of Prussia, an equally fiery patriot who shared the Marshal's almost pathological hatred of Napoleon

With Wellington's forces still strung out on the march, Blucher was caught up with at Ligny and forced to slug it out alone agfainst the French Army of the North. Caught by Napoleon with his forces badly positioned, with his Prussians on the forward slopes contrary to Wellington's advice (The Iron Duke loved to hide troops on reverse slopes), Blucher attempted to recover a lost situation by personally leading a cavalry charge and found himself knocked senseless and trapped under his horse when it fell during a French cavalry counterattack. Had the French recognized their quarry as he lay stunned under his horse and captured him, the entire Belgian Campaign might have ended differently.

With Blucher temporarily out of action, command of the Prussian army briefly passing to Gneisenau, who favored a defensive deployment in the direction of Wavre...an historic decision which eventually allowed the Prussians to come to Wellington's assistance at Waterloo, thus saving the campaign.

Blucher eventually returned to duty, however, and led the pursuit of the French to Paris before once again retiring to his farm.  He died on his Silesian estates on 12 September 1819.